Monthly Archives: December 2012

milwaukee_vote_suppression

An Outrageous Attempt To Suppress Voting In Milwaukee

A billboard in Milwaukee could lead to a lower turnout on election day.

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer from The Domer Law Firm.

I’ve noticed a number of billboards in my city that have gone up in recent weeks (please see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here: http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/community-groups-object-to-voter-fraud-billboards-5077qis-174260461.html). These billboards state that “voter fraud is a felony,” and they appear to be “strategically” placed in certain neighborhoods.  My level of outrage and frustration increases with every single viewing of these misleading and outrageous billboards.

First, I can’t believe that the person/family/corporation responsible for the billboards can’t own up to identifying who they are.  The ads are simply sponsored by a “private family foundation”—a great way to hide the true identity.  Also, the message is truly insidious, as the allegations of voter “fraud” are just a red herring.  The reality and intent of these billboards is for one purpose: voter suppression.  The goal is to create some unfounded fear to keep certain individuals from voting in the upcoming election.

One of the main tenets of a vibrant and representative democracy is the right to vote.  I am truly disheartened by the fact that certain people or political parties feel that their only route to winning an election is to suppress the vote.

workplace_injury

10 Things To Do If You Get Hurt At Work

If you are hurt at work make sure to follow these guidelines to protect your rights

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Jones from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

When you’re injured at work in New York, people often ask what they should do immediately following the accident. There are several basic things you should do to protect your rights under New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.
  1. Report the accident to your supervisor/employer as soon as is possible. Under NYS law you have 30 days to give your employer notice of the accident. Report the injury to your supervisor and be clear about how it happened and that it happened at work.
  2. Follow up with your employer to ensure they have prepared an accident report. If a report is not being prepared, you should write a letter stating the circumstance of the accident for your Supervisor. If you can, send your letter by email or have your supervisor sign a note that acknowledges receipt. A paper trail is always helpful.
  3. When you receive a copy of the accident report, or any paperwork from your employer or its insurance carrier, be sure to make copies for yourself. Keeping your own file is always helpful in the long run. You should bring that file with you to hearings to show your attorney and the judge, if needed.
  4. If you are a member of a union, you should tell your shop steward of the injury as well. Be sure that you report to the shop steward who you gave notice to, when you gave it, and ask what your union policy is on Workers’ Compensation injuries.
  5. Keep a log of<!–more–> all significant contacts you make along the way. Note your doctor visits, conversations in adjusters, and any documents received.
  6. If you are out of work because of your injury, you need to see your doctor every 45-90 days (depending on your injury). The reports that your doctor submits to the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board is the evidence required to support your continuing disability. Without those reports your treatment may be obstructed and any indemnity payments you’re receiving may be stopped.
  7. When you visit the doctor remember to be clear and discuss in detail the circumstances of your injury. Everything from what job you do, to where you were hurt, to the mechanics of the injury (For example: Did you fall backwards? Sideways? Land on your knees? Your back? Some other way?)
  8. If your doctor says you can return to work in a lighter capacity, be sure to get a letter that lays out what physical restrictions you have. You should keep a copy for yourself and provide copies to your employer.
  9. Do not be afraid to follow up with your doctors to get copies of the medical reports they are submitting to the Board. Up to date medical evidence is an essential component of a workers’ compensation claim. You do not want to leave your fate to the efficiency and prowess of others to prepare, scan, and upload documents to State computer programs.
  10. If your doctor tells you that treatment has been denied, discuss the need for treatment with your doctor and ask if he/she needs you to sign a “variance” request to affirm you would like to bring the issue to the Board.

Sometimes the “smell test” is most applicable. If something doesn’t smell right don’t be afraid to consult your attorney (or retain one if you haven’t already). There are a number of moving parts in these cases — doctors, adjusters, independent medical consultants, physical therapists, judges, your lawyers, insurance company lawyers — that asking questions and doing your best to get a firm grasps on the status of your claim is only going to help you as you recover from your injury.

bev_perdue

Misclassification Fraud Across the Country

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue Signed Executive Order 125

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan from The Jernigan Law Firm.

“Misclassification” is a poorly chosen word to describe fraudulent conduct by employers who misclassify the status of their employees. For example, a roofing company may have 30 roofers doing the actual work but these workers are classified as “independent contractors” instead of employees. Why would they do that? At the end of the year these workers are sent a 1099 tax form that reports the wages paid, but the employer does not make any deductions for Medicare or unemployment, and doesn’t pay for workers’ compensation insurance. If you have a roofing company and you properly classify your employees, you are at a competitive disadvantage in bidding on jobs. Honest businesses are hurt by misclassification, and taxpayers are hurt because they pick up medical bills and other expenses created when one of these “independent contractors” gets hurt.

Another form of misclassification is when a construction company with 85 employees reports to its workers’ compensation insurance company that 75 of these people are staff workers, which results in a significantly reduced premium. Obviously, a construction worker is at greater risk of injury than an office worker. Again, the honest company who accurately reports the status of its employees is at a competitive disadvantage with the dishonest employer.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, California, Texas and the vast majority of states across the country have been looking into this issue for several years and they have been aggressively prosecuting dishonest employers who try to game the system. North Carolina has finally joined these states. On August 22, 2012, Governor Beverly Perdue issued Executive Order 125, which created a task force to study this issue and try to get different agencies to communicate with each other and share information to identify employers who are failing to pay employee taxes. Hopefully, this task force will figure out how to enforce existing law. This blog will follow the progress of this task force. Stay tuned.

Boghosian_08hazmat1_MET

Asbestos Exposure Occurs When Old Pipe Bursts

Source: Boston Globe

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law.

The nation’s crumbling infrastructure continues to cause workers to be exposed to deadly abestos fiber. Today in Boston a steam pipe burst near Boston City Hall exposing the population to cancer causing asbestos fiber.

Asbestos continues to be a major health hazard since it remains in construction material exposuing workers to potential latent disease such as: asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The US has yet to ban asbestos.

While hazmat workers rushed to the scene in an attempt to contain and repair the leak, the accident exemplies the need for workers to continue to be educated about safety proceedures in handling asbestos fiber.

The workers’ compensation and civil justice system continues to be available for those who have been exposed and require medical surveillance. Exposed individuals need to take action within a prescribed time period after an exposure and should consult with an attorney at law for guidance inorder to protect their rights under the law.

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Jon L.Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

 

 

Read More About Asbestos

Nov 04, 2012
The path of destruction to buildings caused by hurricane Sandy has created a potential threat of deadly asbestos exposure. Many structures destroyed and damaged by the storm contained asbestos fiber and those were …
Oct 18, 2012
Workers continue to be exposed to asbestos during removal and abatement projects. It is imperative that asbestos be removed in a safe and prescribed manner to avoid any unnecessary disease and illness. Merely “dumping” …
Sep 14, 2012
“Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health conditions,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “It is imperative that OSHA’s safety and health …
Sep 04, 2012
The Canadian Journal of Medicine had also endorsed a ban on Canadian asbestos production. “Canada’s government must put an end to this death-dealing charade. Canada must immediately drop its opposition to placing .

 

 

worried_2

The Very Real Dangers Of Worry (Part 2)

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

Previously we posted on how worry can affect the lives of injured or disabled workers. In today’s post, we’ll talk about some of the specific effects of worry on the body.

The physical reactions to excessive fear and anxiety (worry) initiate a chain or cascade of pathological events by stimulating the amygdala area of the brain (fight/flight response), releasing neurotransmitters to the cortex. There, the fear or anxiety, whether real or imagined, is analyzed in detail and the analysis is returned to the amygdala where, in normal situations, the fear response is shut off by amino-butyric acid (GABA). GAD worriers may not have high enough GABA levels to shut off this pathway. Consequently, there are constant marked secretions of glucocortocoids and catecholamines that increase blood sugar levels. Marked levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine dilate blood vessels in skeletal muscles and other adrenergic (adrenal) stimulations that in turn create modifications in breathing, increased temperatures, sweating, decreased mobility of the stomach, bowels, and intestines, constrictions of the sphincters in the stomach and intestines.

Simply said, constant fear and anxiety result in debilitating amounts of stress hormones like cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and hormones that cause blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) to rise significantly. This process, if not shut off or modulated, can cause premature coronary artery disease, short-term memory loss, digestive problems, and suppression of the natural immune system. The scientific literature is now implicating constant stress, such as constant work stress or toxic fear and anxiety, in causing large weight gains in the midriff area which can greatly exacerbate orthopedic injuries, particularly of the spine or knees, and can lead to increased incidences of diabetes and cancer.

Worry causes increased mortality and morbidity. It is that simple.

For information on how to treat and avoid worry, check in with us later this week for the next installment in this 3-part series.

If I am Hurt on the Job, What Should I Tell My Doctor?

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

One of the most important parts of any case is the history of your injury that you provide to your doctor when you first see him or her.

If you were hurt during a specific incident, make sure to tell your doctor how you were hurt, when you were hurt, where the injury took place, and who else was present. Tell him about the pain and symptoms that you have been experiencing. Also be sure to describe in detail all of the body parts that you have injured. Even if one injury hurts more than the others, make sure to tell your doctor about every single injury.

If you have been hurt by repetitive-work activities, be specific about the number of movements that you make. For instance, tell your doctor about the number of times you lift or grip things in an hour, day, or week.

If you have been hurt by exposure at work, whether it is to a hot, humid environment, chemicals, or any other environmental condition, be specific when you tell your doctor about the pain and symptoms that you have due to that exposure.

If you leave work and become better, and then return to work and experience an increase in your symptoms, be specific when you tell your doctor about any changes in your condition.

It is important to be accurate and honest the first time that you seek treatment with your doctor, for both your health and your workers’ compensation claim.

sad

Suicide – Recognize the Signs Before It’s Too Late

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Several years ago I had declined to represent an injured truck driver until his wife called me and said she found a suicide note and asked me to reconsider. I did and was able to help him. I believe there is a connection between suicide and workers’ compensation. Clearly the pain of an injury, coupled with the stress of not being able to return to work can cause tremendous psychological strain.

One Texas doctor actually testified at a legislative hearing that prolonged decisions on workers’ compensation coverage in the state had lead to an increase in work’ comp’ related suicides in recent years. “The incidence of those reports has been astonishingly high compared to five years ago,” he told the legislators, “when they were, to my knowledge, nonexistent.”

Below are some signs that you or somebody you know may be at risk. This list of warning signals comes from the website of the American Psychological Association. If you see any of these signs, seek help from a doctor or therapist, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Continue reading

Model

From Hand to Mouth – Workers Need to Concerned About Chemical Safety

The inadvertent and dermal conceptual model

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law.

A recently published a paper about the inadvertent ingestion of chemicals at work from contact between the mouth and contaminated hands or objects highlights how dangerous exposure could occur at work.  The inadvertent ingestion is a potentially significant source of occupational exposure and there needs to be a greater focus on assessment of risks from hand-to-moth contacts and more done to control such risks.

“The latest research is part of a project to develop a predictive model to estimate inadvertent ingestion exposure. To better understand this route of exposure we developed  a new integrated conceptual model for dermal and inadvertent ingestion. It consists of eight compartments (source, air, surface contaminant layer, outer clothing contaminant layer, inner clothing contaminant layer, hands and arms layer, perioral layer, and oral cavity) and nine mass transport processes (emission, deposition, resuspension or evaporation, transfer, removal, redistribution, decontamination, penetration and/or permeation, and swallowing) that describe event-based movement of substances between compartments (e.g. emission, deposition, etc.). We plan to use the conceptual model to guide the development of predictive exposure models for both the dermal and the inadvertent ingestion pathways.”

Gorman Ng M, Semple S, W Cherrie J, et al. The Relationship Between Inadvertent Ingestion and Dermal Exposure Pathways: A New Integrated Conceptual Model and a Database of Dermal and Oral Transfer Efficiencies. Ann Occup Hyg Published Online First: 23 July 2012. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mes041

Cherrie JW, Semple S, Christopher Y, et al. How important is inadvertent ingestion of hazardous substances at work?Ann Occup Hyg 2006;50:693–704.

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For over 3 decades the
 Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Read more about “Chemical Exposures:

Dec 18, 2009
Chemical Exposure in Iraq Claims Soldier. The death of an Indian National Guard member has been alleged to have been caused by a chemical exposure at an Iraq worksite. The terminal cancer of Lt. Colonel Jim Gentry, age 
Mar 26, 2011
Chemical exposures continue to impact health and result in an enormous burden on human life. Over 4.9 million deaths world-wide and 86 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years were attributed to environmental exposure and
Oct 05, 2012
The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the level and length of exposure to the pollution. From the 1940s to 1980, what is now referred to as the Scientific Chemical Processing site 
Jul 10, 2010
A lawsuit was filed alleging that a former chemical operator at Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, New Jersey was exposed to asbestos fiber and died of mesothelioma. The lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court asserts that he